SULLIVAN, Ind. — A judge sentenced a southern Indiana church financier to 54 years in prison yesterday for pocketing millions of dollars that investors believed would be used to build churches.
Former pastor Vaughn Reeves, 66, had little reaction as officers escorted him from the courthouse in Sullivan, said his attorney, who promised to challenge the conviction and the sentence. Reeves was convicted on nine counts of securities fraud in October.
Investigators said Reeves and his three sons used their now-defunct company, Alanar, and sales pitches that included prayers and Bible passages to dupe about 11,000 investors into buying bonds worth $120 million secured by mortgages on construction projects at about 150 churches. Instead, Reeves and his sons diverted money from new investments to pay off previous investors, pocketing $6 million and buying airplanes, cars, and vacations, investigators said.
Prosecutors have said the case was a prime example of affinity fraud, in which scammers prey on people who share a common interest, such as religious affiliation, ethnicity, or age.